Amazon Prime Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited: What’s the Difference?

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If you don’t know the difference between Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited, then you’re in the right place.

Analysts project that music streaming revenues will rise to $5.11 billion by 2021.  Amazon, ever the opportunist, has responded by introducing not one — but two — streaming music services.

But what’s the difference between Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited?

In many respects, Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited are the same. They both offer a similar interface and give you access to many of the same features.  Both have sliding lyrics so that you can sing along karaoke-style to your favorite songs.

Both versions also offer offline playback, meaning you can download a song or playlist and stream it on a road trip without worrying about using up your data.

Prime Music, like the name suggests, is bundled with Prime.  So it ‘feels free’ if you’re already a Prime junkie.  Unlimited on the other hand, is priced as follows:

  • $9.99/month for non-Prime customers
  • $7.99/month or $79/year for Prime Members
  • $3.99/month for Prime Members with an Amazon Echo

The biggest difference between Prime and Unlimited, other than the price, is the size of the library.  And it’s a big differentiator.

With Prime Music, which is free for Amazon Prime members, you have access to over two million songs.  If you want something to pass the time with, this option is perfect.  It’s free and there’s enough music to keep you satisfied for a long time.

If you’re looking for a larger library with specific songs, it’s worth signing up for the monthly premium Unlimited tier. Unlimited boasts tens of millions of songs, including most new albums.

Newer artists is where you’ll notice the largest difference between the two plans.  Prime offers some new music, but most of the newer albums are on Unlimited.

Alexa Integration

Both Prime Music and Unlimited gives listeners the chance to play music through their Amazon Echo and other Alexa devices. It’s as easy as saying “Alexa, play The Cure”.

And for those that love Alexa, Unlimited is a blast.  Already, Amazon is introducing Alexa-powered, higher-end speakers.  That means voice-activated control over a near-infinite music collection.  It’s a major differentiator over competitors like Spotify.

(Please note: in our earlier version of this article, we wrote that Amazon Prime Music doesn’t have Alexa integration.  Amazon has since clarified that both services are indeed Alexa-enabled).

Some Other Factors to Consider.

Amazon Prime Music is bundled, but it isn’t free.  If you want to use Amazon’s Prime Music service, you’ll need to be a Prime member.  If you cancel, then you lose your playlists, downloaded songs, and a range of preferences.

There is a nice advantage over Spotify’s free tier, however.  On Amazon Prime Music, you can listen to music ad-free and download songs for later.  Unlike Spotify’s free plan, you can select specific songs instead of listening to everything on shuffle.  Amazon also allows you to download your playlists for offline listening on their ‘free’ plan.

For those leaping to Unlimited, the selection dramatically expands.  But to get a library of songs that competes with Spotify, Apple, Deezer, Slack, and others, you’ve got to pay to play.

So why not just offer one service?

That would be a lot simpler.  But there’s an old rule in business: know your customers.  And music streaming services typically break their customers down into different groups.  And one of those groups simply isn’t interested enough to start paying a monthly fee.

But either way, Amazon wins.  Bundled Prime users get some extra value, but more dedicated listeners pay more.  In both plans, a payment is happening somewhere.  And there’s always a temptation to upgrade to Unlimited, without ditching the core Prime membership.

So what’s the best decision?

If you’re already a Prime member, try out the ‘free’ version and see if you like it. If not, there are a multitude of options that cost the same amount of money, have the same streaming quality, and have more songs to choose from.

Other services have their own bells-and-whistles, including Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music.  In every case, you can try these competitors out in a limited free trial.


3 Responses

  1. Steven Barnholtz

    Just to clarify. If you have the unlimited (that you pay extra for having) ” If you cancel, then you lose your playlists, downloaded songs, and a range of preferences” on either of the two scenarios. Correct?

    • Gabe Yonts

      That’s correct. Once you cancel your music is gone. It’s a pretty standard thing across all the apps though. I thought about putting it in the article but didn’t want it to seem like they were the only ones that do that.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe you could burn a cd of it once you pay for the songs? That could be a way of keeping what you’ve paid for.